A Facebook friend posted an article titled, "Breaking Bad Ended My Relationship And I Couldn't Be More Grateful." You can find the article here. In a nutshell, the author of the article described becoming embroiled in an emotionally abusive relationship, and how watching a particular episode of Breaking Bad with her abuser allowed her to see him for what he truly was, and to break free of the relationship.
A acquaintance of the friend who posted the article stated, inter alia, that the author was "dumb," "needy" and "desperate." The acquaintance also decried therapy as being essentially a useless, expensive endeavor that was solely supportive of an individual's neediness, and surmised that therapists could also be power-seeking, manipulative abusers. Without copying that acquaintance's words -- for they were self-righteous, condescending, and hurtful -- we would like to share with you our thoughts. Over the course of the discussion, we wrote the following (rearranged here ever so slightly for better flow):
One of the hallmarks of an emotional abuser is rendering the target unable to trust her own feelings, perceptions and judgement. Intersperse that with signs of loving, caring, and apparent willingness to change, and it can be extremely difficult to disentangle the bad from the seeming good. Read about "gaslighting" (Wikipedia, source of all pop culture knowledge, happens to have a decent explanation of it.)
It's not "needy" to want to give someone the benefit of the doubt, particularly when (as in the article) a well-trusted family member is good friends with the abuser, and when the abuser himself apologizes and seems to want to try to do better. And incidentally, this type of relationship happens not only among dating pairs, but also within families themselves. Would you have the same opinion about a woman who was trying to maintain a relationship with a parent who displayed similar abusive behavior? It's not always about being "needy" and "desperate"; a lot of times, it's about relating to another human being, about wanting to believe that there's a kernel of good in all people, and about love and patience and forgiveness and hope, despite one's (or another's) flaws. I say, 'brava' to the author of the piece for speaking out. She's acknowledged her flaws and her mistakes, and hopefully by reading about them, someone else may be able to escape the insidious trap of another emotional abuser.
I need to say, also: it breaks my heart a little bit to see the author say she was afraid of publishing the piece because it will make her look 'dumb'. In an ideal world, we all would have the inner strength and firm belief in our own judgement to see abusers for what they are. This world is, sadly, far from ideal, and experiences from our childhood and adulthood color our abilities and our senses of self. Why do we focus upon what is seen as a flaw of the abused person -- not to have 'seen' the abuse? Why is the abused person 'dumb'? Why aren't we glaring at the abuser for being cruel, for trampling upon and injuring another person's heart and soul? Those who find the strength to escape an abuser are deserving of praise, not criticism.
Am I understanding you correctly that her being able to list her mistakes very precisely is what you feel makes her 'dumb'? I would think that being able to use hindsight to identify where one went wrong would be an indicator of intelligence, not dumb-ness. I did not see anything in her piece that indicates that she felt she desperately needed a man and that such desperation led her to overlook some warning flags. Rather, I see her as being interested in *him* in particular for specific reasons, not just in having *any* man.
Furthermore, I did not read the author's account of the relationship as indicating she knew at the time the man's behavior was "beyond questionable." Again, "gaslighting" oftentimes makes it difficult to believe one's own eyes. If I did see that the author wanted the relationship beyond her own self-respect, I would consider that to be a problem, indeed. However, that is not what I took away from the article. I understand that others' views may vary.
Also, I'll add that I find the statement, "I find people's belief in the benefit of therapy touching, but naive" to be both closed-minded and supercilious. There is significant scientific evidence indicating that therapy is helpful. (One abstract, for example, can be found here: http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1994-18340-001). Therapists could also be abusers, as you said. So can all other human beings. That doesn't mean, though, that one should decline to see a therapist any more than it means that one should abstain from all human contact lest another individual be an abuser. Cost for therapy varies, as it does for many other services. And I agree, it's not a magical cure-all. Nevertheless, it can be life-changing for the better for many individuals.
The insidious nature of emotional abuse, and the difficulties of breaking free, are issues that strike close to my heart. While I have been blessed by many people in my life, others have not been so fortunate. Knowing that "there, but for the grace of God, go I," reminds me that I must be a safe harbor for those in need, and I cannot do so if I sit in judgement of them.
Thank you for plowing through these myriad words, my cherished readers. Remember, always, that I strive to be your safe harbor -- as you are a safe harbor for me.